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Porcello pitches eight strong en route to win

Chris Sale's unexpected move from the rotation back to the White Sox bullpen because of health concerns with the 23-year-old's pitching elbow has suddenly opened up the fifth slot in the club's starting rotation.

On Sunday, 26-year-old Dylan Axelrod will start against the Tigers, as he looks to secure that role. Axelrod has allowed one run over 3 1/3 innings in two relief appearances this season after going 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in four outings (three starts) during a 2011 callup.

"He's pitching Sunday, so certainly we got faith in him to go out there," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "We've seen him in the big leagues last year and he did a fine job, and there are going to be opportunities knocking on Axe's door and he's going to get that chance to show more what he can do."

The Tigers will counter by sending Rick Porcello to the mound in the rubber match of the three-game set.

Porcello seemed to snap out of a two-game funk in his last outing, allowing three runs while matching a career-high eight innings. The 23-year-old right-hander altered his delivery for that start after having been tagged for 14 earned runs in just 7 2/3 combined innings over his previous two starts.

"It was just something that [pitching coach Jeff Jones] suggested -- just to slow my delivery down," Porcello said of raising his hands in the windup. "My biggest problem has been my tempo, getting out too quick and leaving pitches up in the zone. So we tried going over the head to slow everything down, and I think it helped me be able to locate my offspeed stuff, especially."

Tigers: Avila continuing to turn things around
Entering the month of May, catcher Alex Avila had recorded just six hits over his last 11 games. In his first four games this month, Avila already has seven in just 13 at-bats, raising his season average from .220 to .278.

"In baseball you're going to struggle," said Avila, who predicted earlier this week that it would only be a matter of time before hits started falling. "Sometimes you're going to play well, sometimes you're not. That's just part of the game."

White Sox: Santiago preparing for middle-relief role
With Axelrod's promotion to starter and Sale moving immediately from starter to closer, former closer Hector Santiago must again prepare for a new role.

Santiago was somewhat of a surprise choice for the closer responsibilities by manager Robin Ventura at the start of the season, but he converted each of his first three save opportunities. The 24-year-old screwballer has converted just one of three chances since, serving up four home runs and sporting a 6.75 ERA over eight innings this season.

With Sale not assuming the closer role until Monday, Santiago was called upon to shut the door on the White Sox 3-2 victory Saturday, but couldn't finish the task. He issued a walk and then allowed a two-out double before Ventura turned to Addison Reed to finish it off.

"That's their call," Santiago said before Saturday's game, regarding his switch from closer to middle reliever. "I have no control over what they say or what they do."

Worth noting
• Adam Dunn, who hit a game-winning home run on Saturday, has struck out at least once in each of Chicago's 27 games this season and 31 straight games overall dating back to last season. The 31-game streak is the longest by a non-pitcher and just three behind Vida Blue's all-time record of 34 straight in the 1971 campaign.

• Seven White Sox players have hit at least one home run off Porcello. Alex Rios has gone yard twice against the right-hander, while Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Gordon Beckham, Brent Morel and Dayan Viciedo each have one.

• In eight career starts against the White Sox, Porcello has served up nine home runs, the most he's allowed to any team.

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